Other Names: Amstaff, American Staffy, American staff
Country Of Origin: USA
Dog Group: Terrier
Recommended For: Families, couples, single owners
Maintenance Level: Moderate/low
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Temperament: Friendly, loyal, caring
Good For First-Time Owner: Yes
Good With Children: Yes
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Good With Strangers: Yes
Good For Apartments: Yes
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
American Staffordshire Terriers were brought over from England in the 19th century, and have been a popular American breed ever since.
Staffordshire Terriers were bred as hunting and working dogs, but they have also been kept as companion pets for a long time.
The breed’s friendly nature makes them good family pets, and they get on very well with children.
American Staffordshire Terriers are generally good with other animals, but can become protective of their owners if they feel threatened.
Color: Any color, but gray, blue, brindle, and variations are the most common colorings.
Height: Males – 18-19 inches, females – 17-18 inches
Weight: Males – 55-70lbs, females – 40-55lbs
Personality and Temperament:
American Staffordshire Terriers are incredibly friendly dogs, and are known to be loyal to their owners, caring, and very receptive to human emotions.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is known to be very affectionate towards humans. However, their loyalty can make them aggressive if they feel threatened, and they can develop a tendency to snap at other dogs if not properly socialized from a young age.
On the whole, the breed isn’t very independent, and they prefer to be around people and other dogs than being on their own.
The Amstaff is suitable for first-time owners because they’re quite low maintenance.
First-time owners should always look for a generally healthy breed that won’t need as much healthcare or grooming.
Similarly, Amstaffs are suitable because they require plenty of exercise, but are nowhere near as demanding as some other breeds.
Although some reports say otherwise, the American Staffy isn’t a dangerous breed. Much of the issue around this topic comes from the fact that they’re frequently confused with other breeds that are considered dangerous, such as the American Pit Bull Terrier.
It’s common to confuse the two breeds, but they’re not the same. Both are “pit bulls”, but this is a general term applied to a range of Terrier breeds.
The breed is generally very sociable, and the Amstaff is good with children. As with any breed of dog, you should introduce them to children as early as possible, and always be around for the first few meetings to make sure nothing bad happens.
Similarly, the American Staffy is good with other dogs, and other pets, including cats. However, you should be cautious around small rodents and reptiles, as they might get injured if the dog is feeling playful.
American Staffordshire Terriers are suitable for both apartments and houses with land, but if you plan on keeping them in an apartment then expect to give them more exercise.
The breed can be quite energetic if not exercised properly, and this can result in destructive behavior. Also, you should be around as much as possible, and give them plenty of attention and play to stop them from getting bored.
The Amstaff’s short, bristly coat means they’re suitable for both hot and cold climates, although you might need to buy them a winter coat if it gets particularly cold.
They’re quite resilient when it comes to weather, but should always be monitored closely in really warm climates to avoid overheating.
When it comes to exercise, the American Staffordshire Terrier does need plenty of it. You should aim for at least one hour-long walk a day, or more if you have the time (and energy).
The breed will basically take as much exercise as you can throw at it, and this is why a house with land is a better environment for them. They’ll be perfectly happy to run around a backyard all day without bother.
The breed is quite easy to train, but may struggle with more complicated commands, as it’s not one of the smartest out there.
However, if you start early and are patient with your training, you should be able to teach an American Staffy a range of obedience commands.
Amstaffs are generally friendly around strangers, although this might be different when they’re at home.
They can be fiercely protective of their owners and property, and so can make good alert dogs. Don’t expect them to be guard dogs though, because they will usually become friendly if given attention.
American Staffordshire Terriers can be left alone for longer periods of time, but this will be much easier if you leave them in the company of other dogs.
Also, you should expect to give them plenty of attention and play time before and after you go out because they crave human attention, and will become depressed if ignored too much.
American Staffordshire Terriers have a short, bristly coat. They don’t shed all that much, but shed enough to not be considered a hypoallergenic breed.
You should find that a weekly going over with a short bristle brush is enough to keep their coat looking healthy and shiny.
When it comes to bathing, you should try to keep this to a minimal. Unlike longhaired breeds, the American Staffy doesn’t need baths to keep their coat soft, and so it should be saved for when they get particularly smelly. In any other situation, a quick brush will be enough to keep them looking nice.
You should trim your Amstaff’s nails regularly, but how often this is will be mostly dependent on the dog, and how much exercise it gets.
Dogs that do plenty of walking need their nails cut less often. Either way, keep an eye on them and trim them if you think they’re looking too long.
You should aim to brush your American Staffordshire Terrier’s teeth several times a week, and provide them with toys that promote oral health.
Dental problems aren’t a massive issue in the breed, but it helps keep on top of smelly breath too.
Common Diseases and Conditions:
The Amstaff or American Staffy is quite a healthy breed as a general rule. They’re stocky by nature, but are prone to obesity, particularly in old age.
They suffer from general dog-related illnesses, such as hip and elbow dysplasia and luxating patella. These are common to many purebred dogs, and should be tested for at a young age.
Other than that, the breed is known to suffer from skin conditions and UTIs, plus arthritis in old age.
These conditions are generally treatable but not curable, although many don’t come on until old age anyway.
The American Staffordshire Terrier comes from the same ancestor as a wide range of Terrier breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier.
This ancestor, the bull and terrier, was brought over to the USA from England in the middle of the 19th century.
Although experts aren’t completely sure which breed was used to create the Amstaff, they believe it was some kind of English fox terrier.
The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1898 as the American Pit Bull Terrier, but this was amended in 1969 to indicate a separation of the two breeds.
The American Staffy was used in a variety of working roles, but mainly for hunting and fighting.
This is part of the reason why the American Staffy is seen as dangerous, but much of their aggression was a result of their upbringing, rather than anything innate in the breed.
The Amstaff was always a popular breed as a family dog, but this popularity declined after the end of the Second World War.
There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for this, although it might have something to do with the development of similar, significantly less aggressive breeds.
American Staffordshire Terrier Facts & Figures:
Did You Know?
- American Staffordshire Terriers need plenty of attention and affection from their owners. If they don’t get it, they may become depressed.
- The breed has a tendency to dig, so be prepared for this if you have a backyard.
- They’re also very proficient jumpers, so you might find you need to extend that fence of yours.
- One famous American Staffordshire Terrier was Pete the Pup. He was made famous through Our Gang (The Little Rascals), a series of short films that began in the 1920s.
- American Staffs are very muscular and need a high protein diet. They benefit massively from a raw diet, which can help them to maintain the correct muscle mass.
- They’re also very agile, and have been a long-featured breed in agility competitions. American Staffordshire Terriers have also long been used as a show breed, and still do very well.
- The Amstaff isn’t very good at swimming because their legs are a bit too short to support their stocky bodies. Always be careful around open water, or provide them with a life jacket if you plan on going swimming.